The Little Red Chairs-Edna O'Brien
A woman discovers that the foreigner she thinks will redeem her life is a notorious war criminal.
I really wanted to enjoy this and really wanted to give it a chance but I think it was a bit too heavy handed from the beginning. The title is such a dead giveaway as well as the blurb so the bottom fell out of the trope of 'mysterious stranger shows up in a village' at the very start. You're never really given a chance to see 'Vlad' from the viewpoint of Fidelma because I at once immediately wondered whether this was Karadzic or Mladic. Maybe I simply came into this novel far more informed about the Yugoslav wars than O'Brien gave me credit? I don't know but so there's this kind of immediate disconnect, I wanted to skip this part to what would surely be a more interesting second half but then O'Brien throws in some violence which was abrupt and fairly unnecessary feeling. Okay, I thought-onwards? Finally at the end I was intrigued by Fidelma's confrontation of the banality of evil but it feels superficial...not the least because it was only like ten pages of the novel. There's so much potential in exploring the banality of evil using Karadzic but O'Brien doesn't take the opportunity. Meanwhile, the prose is drifting here and there like it's a little drunk or maybe with the dream sequences, it simply has taken some pills.
This is a hard review because on the one hand, it was an interestingly crafted novel but in the end I felt it let itself down. Maybe my expectations were simply higher than they ought to have been.